Accessibility links

Breaking News

Watchdog

Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail in 2009. (file photo)

Lithuania’s parliament has passed new human rights legislation modeled on the U.S. Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that infuriated Moscow and prompted a ban on Americans adopting Russian children.

The measure, which passed the Seim overwhelmingly, makes Lithuania the fifth country to adopt such legislation targeting Russians deemed to have committed either financial crimes or human rights violations.

The bill contains a list of 44 Russians, including Investigative Committee Chairman Aleksandr Bastrykin, who will face a travel ban and other measures.

The Magnitsky laws are named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after suffering what his supporters said amounted to torture. Magnitsky had been jailed by Russian authorities after he helped uncover a $230 million tax fraud scheme. He was later convicted posthumously of the crime.

His employer, British-American investor Bill Browder, has also faced related criminal charges, and Russia has repeatedly sought his extradition.

The Kremlin reacted to the passage of the U.S. law by banning all adoptions of Russian children by American parents. In subsequent years, Russian officials with ties to authorities have conducted a shadowy lobbying campaign in Washington and elsewhere, seeking to undermine the accepted narrative of Magnitsky’s death.

The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Dalia Grybauskaite in the coming days.

Aside from Lithuania and the United States, Canada, Estonia, and Britain have passed similar laws.

With reporting by the Baltic News Service
Seitqazy Mataev

QAPSHAGHAI, Kazakhstan -- The former chief of the Kazakh Journalists' Union, Seitqazy Mataev, who is serving a sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion, has been granted early release.

The decision, announced on November 16 by the Qapshaghai City Court in Kazakhstan's southeastern Almaty region, will come into force in 15 days.

Mataev, 63, was found guilty in October 2016 of tax evasion and embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars from Kazakhstan's Communications Ministry and sentenced to six years in prison.

His son and co-defendant, Aset Mataev, was also found guilty in the case and sentenced to five years in prison.

Both have denied the charges, and rights groups say Seitqazy Mataev was prosecuted on trumped-up charges in response to his work as head of the journalists’ union.

In April, Mataev's prison term was shortened by two years and eight months, in accordance with an amnesty that was announced in December 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence.

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Subscribe

Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More

XS
SM
MD
LG